House OKs committee report on 35-hour workweek bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 28) – The House of Representatives approved on Wednesday the committee report that proposes to reduce the weekly work schedule of private sector employees to 35 hours.

In the explanatory note of House Bill No. 309, the bill’s principal author Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda cited studies which show that a more flexible workweek increases productivity of workers and benefits the economy in the long run.

Salceda added his proposed 35-hour weekly work schedule will also help ease the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“With this bill, this representation envisions a more robust economy and happier workers in healthier workplaces,” said Salceda.

At present, the Labor Code states that employees must not exceed eight working hours per day which gives a total of 40 working hours per week.

Under the bill, employers are given the option to implement the 35-hour workweek schedule upon the request of their employees.

The bill mandates that employees under the 35-hour workweek schedule are still entitled to overtime and night differential pay rates, rest days, and terms and conditions on working arrangements. Employees must also have an equivalent workload as other workers in the company.

During the deliberations on the bill by the House committee on labor and employment, the body’s vice chairperson Baguio Rep. Mark Go opposed the bill’s committee report.

“If they work four days a week with 35 hours per week, you will have a situation where they work more than eight hours per day. If they follow the same provision, they will be paid overtime,” said Go.

Go suggested his House Bill No. 1338, which allows the increase in normal work hours per day under a compressed workweek schedule.

Under Go’s bill, overtime pay will come only when work rendered for the week exceeds the total number of hours under a compressed work scheme.

The 35-hour workweek bill by Salceda will now undergo second reading, where it will be more scrutinized during the plenary session.

Yesterday, the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee-New Normal Cluster approved House Bill 6623 or the "Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities, and Public Spaces Act of 2020," which establishes regulations for a "better normal" in the workplace and public spaces.